LAKELAND, Fla. — Riley Greene was the Tigers’ 2019 first-round pick, ranked No. 5 overall. Spencer Torkelson was the first overall pick, taken a year later. The two hitters have formed a close bond moving up the Tigers system together and both are knocking on the door to the big league.
Jonathan Mayo: I know people have probably talked to you about each other, but how often do you happen to talk about each other? You kind of managed to come together to some extent. Was there a point where you solidified the — we’ll call it the bromance, why not?
Spencer Torkelson: Well, it started in the instructions. After the draft, this whole Covid year has been a little different. We arrived at [alternate] site together, but it was difficult. It was difficult to build a relationship. With masks you couldn’t see if they were smiling, but on instructions it was really cool. I didn’t have my car here, so Riley was my driver. This is where the bromance started I would say.
Riley Green: Certainly at that time. I drove it every day, we were the only two people staying together at this hotel so we were just hanging out after our days.
Mayo: It’s a good thing you guys get along, isn’t it? That’s a lot of forced time with another person. Like everyone else during COVID, you had to limit who you hung out with.
Green: It was really nice to have someone close in age who understands the game but also understands that you have to have a life outside of baseball to have fun.
Mayo: How much do we talk about baseball, do we talk about hitting? You two I’ve talked to before, your ability to speak typing is well advanced for your age. How well does he decompose to bats and how well does he do normal things for youngsters?
Torkelson: I would say it’s about 10% baseball conversations off the field and then 90% just being us, being friends having fun, but that’s a little bit different. Riley’s keys to hitting are special. He would talk to me about how he was spinning and I tried to do that for a few swings – I was just hooking balls. So whatever works for him doesn’t work for me and maybe vice versa, but it’s a fun conversation.
Green: I feel like we’re trying to stay away from those conversations, just because it’s a full day of baseball, we kind of want to go home and do something else. Golf or playing video games and things like that. We will talk about some ABs. I feel like most of the time we just talk about where that land used to be and the approach to everything. We usually try to dump things and get on with our day.
Mayo: What is not related to baseball for you? Is it golf and video games? Is this the main thing?
Torkelson: Golf and video games are the majority. I try to play PGA but I always lose, so it’s really not fun for me, but it’s fun for them because they always beat me.
Mayo: Well, that’s combining golf and video games into one thing. In golf, who is the best?
Green: I would say Tork is better.
Torkelson: We are both not good. It’s impressive, Riley got into golf like two years ago, he hits the right side of the course and he bombs the ball. It’s impressive.
Green: I hit a power slice, so I just played it and just accepted the fact that I’m going to slice the ball.
Mayo: You’re not pitchers, so you don’t have to be good at golf. How did you end up playing right-handed golf?
Green: My dad is a little crazy. He said, “I don’t want you messing up your swing. You play right-handed golf. And I said, “Okay, that’s fine.”
Mayo: You’re also roommates now, so how much comfort is there in knowing that – forget about breaking bats and things like that – but just this process. It’s a long season. You’re trying to go to Detroit. I know you both are competitive, you want to get there. Knowing that you are going through them both, almost step by step, at the same time. So even the hard and the hard, you know there’s someone out there doing it with you.
Torkelson: No doubt, it’s really nice. You also know, it’s not about one guy. We come in, we like to share it and go out there to compete and try to win baseball games. Off the pitch, we just hang around and be us.
Green: It definitely makes me feel comfortable being with Tork. We just go out there and have fun trying to win baseball games like he said.
Mayo: Is there some point where being a first choice – and even more so for you Spencer, because you were number one overall – does that go away? And is it helped by the fact that now you’re just guys trying to get into the big leagues?
Torkelson: Definitely, you know that you have to kind of go through it at first, because no one is used to this kind of projector. Once you get through that, and Riley is the first choice, it really helps because we’re both in the same position.
Green: I feel like we’re trying not to think about it too much. We try to stay off of Twitter and social media as much as possible, but don’t mind that kind of stuff. We just try to focus on playing baseball and winning games.
Mayo: Talk a bit about going to the Futures Game together. I saw you there. Spencer, I will always thank you for helping me win the Home Run Derby contest against [Jim] Calis. Riley, you told me you were a singles hitter back then, I just want to remind you. Were you able to come back to this, another thing that you were able to do together?
Torkelson: Really fun experience. I have never been to Denver in the summer and it was beautiful. They did it well, this whole event. Of course it was great to go with Riley, but it was great to meet the other prospects with and against whom we will play for a long time.
Green: Like Tork said, just being able to be there on that court, playing against the best of the best. Being there with Tork, just having fun. That stadium was amazing, hitting BP there was awesome.
Mayo: I know you got a bit of a ride for your mustache in the fall. Riley clearly has a superior facial hair game. Riley, do you have any advice for Spencer to help her?
Green: I would say keep the ‘stache. I mean, shooting, I love that.
Torkelson: The ‘stache had knocks in it.
Green: If there are hits, I will also do a ‘stache’.
Torkelson: I’ll be ugly for beatings.
Mayo: Austin Wells said the exact same thing yesterday.
Torkelson: His mustache is good.
Mayo: He has a legit mustache. Alright, imagine for a second that you’re not baseball players. What would you two like to do? I guess it would be together at this point.
Green: I would probably be a lifeguard or a firefighter or something like that.
Torkelson: We were fucking BP the other day and I was like, “If I wasn’t playing baseball, I think I’d be a firefighter.” Just because I feel like you’re still with the team. It’s teamwork and when you’re not on call you just hang out with the boys and that’s what we like to do.
Mayo: There are similarities, that’s a good point. Which of you arrives in Detroit first?
Torkelson: I don’t know, I’m not going to say that. We will work as hard as we can, we will see what happens.
Mayo: What would it be like if, say, the stars aligned and you were called together?
Torkelson: That would be great. It would be really fun to share that with Riley and I’m sure it would relieve both of us.
Green: It would be the best thing. Just being able to ride with him and play our first game together.